Turkey stopped Gülen from hiding almost $3 billion, columnist says

Turkey prevented Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen from siphoning off or hiding some 16 billion liras ($2.9 billion) in assets at companies he controlled, according to columnist Dilek Güngör.

The assets at 882 companies seized from Gülen and his alleged supporters since 2016 have grown to 61 billion liras from 45 billion liras, Güngör wrote in Sabah newspaper on Tuesday. The increase came because the officials now running the firms have discovered assets, revenue and capital that were previously hidden from the authorities, she said.

Turkey blames the Gülen movement for masterminding a failed military coup three years ago. It has since seized firms believed to be under the control of the group and arrested tens of thousands of its alleged followers on terrorism charges.

“The companies are now being properly run and the state, and those who work for them, are benefiting,” said Muhiddin Gülal, head of a state-run fund that controls the firms, according to Güngör.

The assets of the Boydak Group of companies have increased to 11.7 billion liras from 7.7 billion liras, Güngör said. Assets of the Koza-Ipek group rose by 54 percent to 8.24 billion liras, she said.

Gülen resides in the United States. The U.S. authorities have yet to start extradition proceedings against the ageing preacher citing lack of evidence of complicity in the coup. Turkey says it has provided stacks of evidence that proves he was involved.

Turkey released Andrew Brunson, a U.S. pastor, from custody last year after his detainment on terrorism charges prompted President Donald Trump to levy sanctions against the country. It was widely believed that Brunson was held due to the refusal of the United States to hand over Gülen. Many Turks believe the Central Intelligence Agency provided funds and support for Gülen and his allegedly moderate form of Islam.